“I would love to talk to Bill Donahue in person at the gallery and discuss our differences of opinion.”
Consider that an official invitation, Mr. Donahue — from Mr. Serrano to you via ANIMAL, as related last night by the artist himself at the opening of the Body and Spirit: Andres Serrano 1987-2012 exhibit at the Edward Tyler Gallery. Then, ANIMAL headed to Times Square to ask people what they thought about Piss Christ. But first…
It took a bit of maneuvering severe around security, weaseling through the immaculately-dressed and some fairy magic to finally get to talk to Mr. Serrano… feet away from the “controversial” Piss Christ in person, half-expecting an art-attacking zealot to lay a hammer on this beautiful piece, again. Naturally, I asked Mr. Serrano if he’s seen Bill Donahue’s video wherein the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States denounces Piss Christ and presents his own art piece of bobble-head President Obama, “the God of Liberalism” and fake poop in a jar. Andres Serrano told ANIMAL that yes, he’s used to the controversy, but it’s takes it seriously.
“I would love to talk to Bill Donahue in person and discuss our differences of opinion. I want to invite him to come to the gallery and discuss the piece with me. As a Christian I admire that he’s a Catholic and I want to be able to have a dialogue with a fellow Christian, if that’s possible.”
Yes, Serrano is a Christian, which does not stop him from investigating morality. He has been on a spiritual quest of his own for 30 years. In his YouTube address, Bill Donahue mocked the fact that the controversial piece aimed to inspire a dialogue. Here’s his chance. Serrano continued:
“We’re in the same boat. We’re both believers in Christ. So, where’s the dissension? Where’s the split here? Granted, artists sometimes do things that not everyone understands. I’m an artist and I don’t understand a lot of art, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate it, even if it’s from a distance.”
I asked if he thinks that Donahue’s misunderstands art or Christianity itself, Serrano responded:
“Well, there’re some people who read the people every day and are locked into thinking that Christianity and the teachings of Christ can only be interpreted in one way. They’re very rigid in that. That’s the wrong for anyone to do that, especially a Christian.”
Sounds reasonable. Sister Wendy would approve. Don’t you feel like encouraging Mr. Donahue to come forward and have an open dialogue of faith and aesthetics?
After talking to the artist, the curator Walter Robinson, and Hyperallergic reporter Gerry Visco dressed as a Piss Christ-loving nun, having witnessed no art-attack and barely any protestors, we headed to Times Square to ask the people if they were offended by the piece with ANIMAL Video Editor Joseph Schulhoff. Here’s what they thought. What do you think?
UPDATE: ANIMAL spoke the secretary at the Catholic League who is now passing on Mr. Serrano’s invitation to Mr. Donohue. We are waiting on the response.
(Video: Joseph Schulhoff)